BY MUBASHIR JAN
In September 2020, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/74/299 “Improving global road safety”, proclaiming the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, with the ambitious target of preventing at least 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030. WHO and the UN regional commissions, in cooperation with other partners in the UN Road Safety Collaboration, have developed a Global Plan for the Decade of Action, which was released in October 2021.
The Global Plan aligns with the Stockholm Declaration, by emphasizing the importance of a holistic approach to road safety, and calling on continued improvements in the design of roads and vehicles; enhancement of laws and law enforcement; and provision of timely, life-saving emergency care for the injured. The Global Plan also reflects the Stockholm Declaration’s promotion of policies to promote walking, cycling and using public transport as inherently healthy and environmentally sound modes of transport.
Progress made during the previous Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 has laid the foundation for accelerated action in the years ahead. Among achievements are inclusion of road safety on the global health and development agenda, broad dissemination of scientific guidance on what works, strengthening of partnerships and networks, and mobilization of resources.
This new Decade of Action provides an opportunity for harnessing the successes and lessons of previous years and building upon them to save more live.
Road Safety in India
Estimates suggest that India lost approximately 1.5 Lac lives due to road crashes in the year 2022. Upto 50 times this number suffered injuries, with some of them developing disabilities. A majority of those dying on the roads are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. According to government data, young people are more vulnerable, especially those who are the sole bread-earners for their family. The economic loss from road traffic injuries is expected to be approximately 3% of the country’s gross domestic product.
Many road crashes are a result of faulty road design and engineering. Non-adherence to legislation is a major reason for road crashes. While over speeding remains the most common reason for road fatalities, other contributing factors include driving under the influence of alcohol, driving on the wrong side of the road, jumping red lights, using mobile phones while driving, not wearing a securely strapped quality helmet, skipping wearing the seat belt and fatigue. There is an urgent need for multi-sectoral response to address this growing challenge.
A road traffic injury is a fatal or non-fatal injury incurred as a result of a collision involving at least one moving vehicle. Globally, there were 1.3 million road traffic deaths in 2022. As against popular perception and usage in common parlance, a road traffic injury is not an accident. Oxford dictionary defines the term accident as “an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause.” There are known risk factors leading to road traffic injuries. Most road traffic injuries and fatalities are largely preventable.
India accounts for about 10 % of road crash fatalities worldwide. Estimated road traffic death rate per 100 000 population in India has increased from 16.8 in 2009 to 18.9 in 2013. Over the last decade, the incidence of accidental deaths has witnessed an increasing trend with an increase of 44.2% for the year 2011 as compared to 2001. This figure translates into one death every five minutes on Indian roads and this is expected to escalate to one death every three minutes by 2023. A multipronged approach is needed to strengthen automobile safety standards, improve road infrastructure, generate awareness, strengthen enforcements and streamline trauma care assistance; besides this non motorised transport (NMT) like walking, cycling needs a priority as huge percentage of pedestrians die on Indian roads and J&K is no exception. Our road design needs a rethink with proper standards as per Indian Road Congress Protocols.
Roads Safety Week Observed
11 to 17 January 2023 was observed as Road Safety Week by Motor Vehicles Department under Swachhta Pakhwada at all district headquarters in collaboration with allied departments. It was to propagate the causes of road accidents and measures taken by all stake holders to reduce fatalities across all districts. We saw mass campaigns to sensitise drivers, common masses, students etc., using all tools of media which was highly appreciated. It’s the right time to appreciate policies of the government like online services/open permit policy/green transport which is being appreciated highly by transporters and unemployed youth.
In JK (2022) statistics regarding road traffic fatalities a report by JK Traffic Police reflects total accidents in 2022 were 5651 with 742 deaths and 7778 injuries. Out of this 589 were fatal injuries and 5062 non-fatal. This figure needs to be reduced by at least 50 % as per our road safety plan. The ideal would be zero accidents.
On the basis of a preliminary survey the demands of common commuters within Srinagar city and Districts are as below:
Implementation of master plan in all districts.
1. Robust public transport as there is dearth of service mix on all routes upto late evenings.
2. Improved highway/arterial and district roads.
3. Last mile connectivity.
4. Footpaths and safe crossings. Congestion pricing in urban areas to reduce congestion.
5. Approved government colonies for urban sprawl.
6. Driving test by RTOs / ARTOs as per rule 15 CMVR.
7. Illumination of roads.
8. Road signages.
9. Bus stop management.
Strengthening of public transport both private/JKSRTC.
We need institutions like TRIPP-IIT Delhi, CIRT Pune or IIHS Bangalore to study cause of accidents, urban mobility problems, land use with scientific solutions as we are witnessing an urban sprawl, though master plan has highlighted all details meticulously but same needs implementation before smart city project is finalised.
(Views expressed are author’s own.)
Mubashir Jan, Assistant Transport Commissioner JK.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.